A Talk on Sunday Observance and Its Relation to the Christian Life.
THE LESSON—That the things we think and do on the Lord's day are a true index of our character.
The importance of the matter of Sunday observance must not be underestimated by the teacher whose endeavor it is to mould into true manhood and womanhood the lives
"How many of you boys and girls ever played the game called 'Hide the Thimble?' Ah, I thought so—nearly everybody. One person bides the thimble and all the others try to find it; the one who discovers it first gets the chance to hide it the next time. Sometimes, the one who has hidden it assists the others to find it by saying, 'You are warm' or 'You are cold,' depending upon the nearness to or the distance from the hidden thimble.
"When we stop to think about it, we find that many things in the world are just like this game. Your life and mine are a great deal like it. Sometimes there is something within us that tells us we are wandering away from God—that tells us we are growing cold. And then, if we heed the warning, we hear the same voice saying we are growing warmer, and we know it to be true for we feel the assurance that we are nearer to the Master than before.
"I am going to draw on the paper this morning a thermometer, and with this thermometer we shall make some tests to see just what it means to be warm Christians or cold ones. [Draw the thermometer, Fig. 66, complete, excepting the liquid in the bulb.]
"Now we are ready to make the test, and we are going to do it by finding out how we spend our Sundays. Why? Because if you can know just how a boy or girl or a man or woman spends the Lord's day, you can tell pretty nearly just what kind of a person that one is in the sight of Jesus Christ.
"God gave us this one day for our greatest good. He wants us to use it as a day which shall make us strong and well, bright and happy. If we use it any other way, we are sure to make one of the greatest mistakes of our lives. So certain is God that we must have a day of rest and upbuilding once in each seven days that he made a law concerning it. It is one of the Ten Commandments, which says that we must 'remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.' God knows best. When He establishes a law, it must not be broken or the one who breaks it will suffer. If the child touches fire with his hand, after being warned by his mother not to do it, his suffering is the result of doing what the mother forbade. When God tells us to keep His day holy, every one of us who disobeys that command must suffer. Let us see how it works. Bishop Vincent says: 'Sunday is ill-spent if it sends us back to our weekly work irritated, weary and reluctant'—and Sunday will never do that for us unless we misuse the day which God has given us. If we spend the day in worrying about our everyday affairs, if we spend it in chasing around after senseless amusements which weary the body without enlightening the heart and the mind, if we allow ourselves to follow paths which lead away from truth and right, then we will show up Monday morning irritated, weary and reluctant and our Sunday observance temperature is low indeed. [With red chalk, fill the bulb and a portion of the thermometer tube, completing Fig. 66.]
"But Bishop Vincent also says, 'Sunday is well spent if it sends us back refreshed in body, mind and spirit to take up our duties with new inspiration of hope, patience and courage.' And we can all do this; and, as we do it, we shall find a growing delight in it. If we have been wasting our Sundays—spending them in such a way that when Monday morning comes we look back upon the Sabbath with regret—let us begin right now to form habits which shall make Sunday a delight—the brightest, the most restful, the most interesting, the most refreshing of all times. And let us be thankful that a day of this kind can come to us so often. It is then that our Sunday observance temperature will rise to its highest point. [With red chalk add lines to complete Fig. 67.]
"Dr. Lyman Abbott, like many others points out the folly of attending church services in the morning and then passing the remainder of the day in noisy or wearisome celebration. He calls it a 'weekly composite of Thanksgiving and Fourth of July,'—Thanksgiving in the quiet of the morning, and Fourth of July in the noisy afternoon.
"Such an observance of the day is displeasing to God who gave us the day for our greatest good and not to be wasted in idleness and folly.
"Keeping the Lord's day holy doesn't deprive us of activity, but it changes the course of our action from paths of wastefulness to fields of the greatest good. There are many things to do on Sunday, and in the doing of some of them right at your hands, you will have discovered the best way for you to get the most out of one of God's greatest gifts to his children."